Astronomy Overnight Thread- Saturn at NIght



Saturn at Night
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute, Cassini Imaging Team

Explanation: Splendors seldom seen are revealed in this glorious picture from Saturn's shadow. Imaged by Cassini on October 17, 2012 during its 174th orbit, the ringed planet's night side is viewed from a perspective 19 degrees below the ring plane at a distance of about 800,000 kilometers with the Sun almost directly behind the planet. A 60 frame mosaic, images made with infrared, red, and violet filters were combined to create an enhanced, false-color view. Strongly backlit, the rings look bright away from the planet but dark in silhouette against the gas giant. Above center, they reflect a faint, eerie light on the cloud tops while Saturn casts its own dark shadow on the rings. A similar Cassini image from 2006 also featured planet Earth as a pale blue dot in the distance. Instead, this scene includes icy moons Enceladus (closer to the rings) and Tethys below the rings on the left.

It's a stunning photo, please click to enlarge.

  • "I hope you're not afraid of the dark" - Vin Diesel ;D  

    A couple years ago, there was a fully interactive 3d mission timeline where you can see the mission from just outside the spacecraft.  It really brought to light how incredibly ingenious and intricate this mission is.  To get out this far required multiple orbits of the sun, using gravity to slingshot it out past Jupiter, where it visited for awhile, then a slingshot around Jupiter to it's permanent home, the orbit around Saturn as another moon.

    In these days of Rock And Roll, The Cassini Mission is Mozart.